Home Health & Wellness Community Dove Hospice is Thankful to Dilmah Tea

Dove Hospice is Thankful to Dilmah Tea


Today, 21st May 2021, is ‘World Tea Day’ and this also falls during ‘Hospice Awareness Week’ here in New Zealand. With Dilmah being a dedicated supporter of Hospice New Zealand we wanted to recognise this support and thank them for the ongoing support they have been offering Dove Hospice over the years.

Please grab yourself a cup tea, and enjoy this 5 minute interview with Jon Houldsworth the New Zealand Communications Manager for Dilmah Tea. Find out more about this iconic tea brand and humanitarian organisation and learn more about their relationship with New Zealand and nationwide hospices.

Q:   I see from the information on your website that Merrill and his sons have pledged to follow the 12 Principles of Dilmah in every aspect of their business and in the conduct of their workers, staff and management.  Can you explain in more detail what these 12 principles are?

Jon:  The 12 principles describe and also represent the story of Dilmah.  They explain how Dilmah is different and also define what this organisation stands for today.

1 Pure Ceylon Tea

Holding the tradition of tea making as a key value.  Dilmah selects the finest amongst Ceylon Teas, protecting the heritage of Sri Lanka’s centuries old tea industry and nurturing the artisanal style that makes the best in the world.

2 Unblended

Committed to quality in making Dilmah unblended.  Blending can compromise the authenticity, freshness and sacrifices quality in tea.

3 Garden Fresh

In tea, Freshness is as important as Quality.  Fresh tea is richer in flavour, aroma and the subtle characteristics of the tea.  Fresh Tea is also richer in antioxidants.

4 The Single Origin Tea

Dilmah is unique in maintaining an unwavering commitment to the integrity of origin and well-located gardens, pledging to offer tea drinkers the finest tea as his commitment to the purity of origin.

5 Cared for by a Tea Maker who is passionate about tea

Teamaking is an art that his based on science  The commitment of the artist that composes the teas is central to the pleasure in those teas. Merrill J. Fernando devoted his life to tea. Now joined by his sons Dilhan and Malik, whose names form that of his ‘third son’ Dilmah, his experience of over seven decades, his dedication as a producer and the foundation of quality and integrity he established are what make Dilmah different.

6 Ethical

Ethical behaviour is part of being human. Merrill J. Fernando established his business on family values and humanity, which naturally led him to commit to the unique philosophy of making business a matter of human service. The success of Dilmah is shared with the underprivileged with a minimum of 10% of the global earnings from Dilmah funding the work of the MJF Charitable Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. The powerful expression of Merrill J. Fernando’s pledge to make his business a matter of human service is in the thousands of lives transformed by the work of his foundation in the areas of education, health, community development, care for the elderly, individuals with disabilities and the environment.

7 Traditional

The traditional style of manufacturing tea is artisanal, demanding expertise at each step. It is an exacting method, demanding expertise but it is the only way to make good tea. Whilst the recent and more prevalent CTC method is cheaper, it represents a compromise that sacrifices the soul of tea. At Dilmah, we offer only tea that is made in the traditional manner.  There is only one way to make good tea, and it is the more difficult way.

8 Finest Quality

From the moment our tea is handpicked on our tea gardens to the artisanal style of manufacture, we taste over 12,000 teas each week in order to select only the finest. Dilmah comes with a guarantee of Quality.

9 Natural

Tea is a herb that is blessed by Nature in a very special way. In each cup of tea, one can discern from the appearance of the tea, from its aroma and taste, the influence of rainfall, sunshine, wind and temperature. We commit to keeping Dilmah Tea natural, as an important element in the natural goodness that tea offers through antioxidants. There is no better teamaker than Nature, and our task is to nurture the terroir of fine tea by respecting the artisanal style of production, and thereby respecting Nature.

10 Authentic

The natural result of our commitment to traditional manufacture, purity of origin, and selecting each tea for its quality by tasting, is a level of authenticity that is unprecedented. We stay true to the heritage of Camellia sinensis – real tea – and the terroir of specific origins. In this way, Dilmah offers genuinely authentic teas that celebrate the subtle variations of different origins.

11 The Pioneer

When Dilmah was first introduced to tea drinkers in 1988, it represented a paradigm shift, being the first producer owned tea company in the world, offering its tea garden fresh, direct from origin to retailers and consumers around the world. It was a small but momentous change, for it symbolised an end to a colonial economic model. Merrill J. Fernando’s boldness brought genuinely fair tea to tea drinkers for the first time, with the benefits of value addition reaching producers and helping sustain an ailing and exploited tea industry.

12 Committed to Sustainability and to the Future of the Ceylon Tea Industry

A firm commitment to sustainability and the future of the Ceylon Tea Industry has led to Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando championing Ceylon Tea and striving for a better future for those engaged in tea. The establishment of the Dilmah School of Tea with affiliation around the world is one part of the Dilmah effort to share knowledge of tea and inspire passion for quality amongst tea drinkers. Dilmah Conservation and the MJF Foundation both share the success of Dilmah, seeking to address environmental concerns and humanitarian issues. Merrill J. Fernando and his ferocious defence of quality, purity and Ceylon Tea are a legendary part of the history of a great industry.

Q:   As a positive humanitarian and environmentally conscious company, having received awards and recognition as a ‘business for peace’, ‘responsible capitalism’ and voted ‘most admired company’, in what way does Dilmah work in a positive way here in New Zealand?

Jon:  The work carried out by the MJF Charitable Foundation extends throughout Sri Lanka amongst many aspects of the community both within and outside of the tea industry. However, this also extends to assisting communities around the world such as New Zealand where Dilmah has provided support to Hospice for nearly 20 years by way of on pack promotions to donate funds as well as free tea to Hospice centres nationwide. In a similar vein Dilmah provides free tea to Ronald McDonald House to support families going through a challenging time based on the belief that tea can provide the simple comfort of home and little luxury to people’s day. Tea is donated amongst numerous community groups on request throughout the year as well such as friendship centers for the elderly via Communicare Auckland through to local school fundraisers. 

Q:  Can you describe in more detail what is ‘the natural goodness in every cup of Dilmah’ and how drinking tea supports health?

J:  This is a very in-depth subject but broadly speaking there are two aspects to health when it comes to tea. Firstly, the simple act of making a cup of tea, taking the time to bring that little ceremony into a busy or stressful day, can bring mental wellness. In a hectic modern world tea is the friend that says, “slow down and take care”. On the other side there is the well-researched benefits found through a variety of components found in the leaf itself, such as antioxidants which support the body’s ability to fight cell damaging free radicals. For more in-depth information on the health benefits of tea read here: https://www.dilmahtea.com/tea-information-training-knowledge/tea-and-health.html 

Q:  Next week is ‘Hospice Awareness Week’, and we would like to learn more about how the relationship between Dilmah tea and Hospice New Zealand first developed.

Dilmah Tea Founder Merrill Fernando was capped as a Doctor of Science by Massey University here in New Zealand in 2019.  Dilmah is also voted by New Zealand as their most trusted tea brand for the 5th year in a row and it was suggested that New Zealand were an early adopter to Dilmah Tea. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the history of the brand here in New Zealand and how Dilmah support Hospice New Zealand?

A:  New Zealand has become the second home for Dilmah since the brand began and this year we celebrate 30 years in New Zealand, as well as Merrills 91st birthday! New Zealand along with Australia were the first two markets he launched in because of family friends who helped introduce his vision to bring back 100% Pure Ceylon Tea with Integrity and Ethics. Merrill J Fernando, Dilmah’s founder was first introduced to Hospice here in New Zealand by long time kiwi friend Daron Curtiss. Daron was also instrumental in convincing Merrill to front his own TV ads. Daron also heard Merrill talking to Customers at a local NZ supermarket and inviting them to try his new tea… and so the now infamous phrase “Do Try It” was coined. So, the local kiwi connection has always been strong, just as the friendship with Hospice has been so important. Dilmah’s support of Hospice has continued for nearly 20 years and seen nearly 10 million teabags donated to provide a little comfort for people in their day plus a bi-annual on-pack promotion which donates $20,000 from packs sold throughout New Zealand.

Merrill J Fernando, Dilmah’s Founder


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